Fido's emergency care getting legislative assist in Colorado

By: Associated Press
January 30, 2014 Updated: January 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm
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photo - Northport Fire Rescue firefighters and emergency responders assist a firefighter who received minor injuries when he and a second firefighter fell through the floor while working to put out a fire at a home on the corner of 19th Street and 22nd Avenue in Northport, Ala., Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. The two firefighters were taken to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa for minor injuries according to department spokesman Capt. Jason Norris. The cause of the fire is under investigation. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Michelle Lepianka Carter)
Northport Fire Rescue firefighters and emergency responders assist a firefighter who received minor injuries when he and a second firefighter fell through the floor while working to put out a fire at a home on the corner of 19th Street and 22nd Avenue in Northport, Ala., Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. The two firefighters were taken to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa for minor injuries according to department spokesman Capt. Jason Norris. The cause of the fire is under investigation. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Michelle Lepianka Carter) 

DENVER — Many have seen those cute videos showing firefighters giving oxygen to dogs and cats after a fire. But the firefighters could be liable if something goes wrong. A Colorado bill aims to correct that.

A Senate committee gave unanimous approval Thursday to the bill to authorize emergency responders to give basic medical care to pets.

Firefighters and EMTs routinely give basic care to pets. However, veterinarians are technically the only people besides owners who are legally permitted to provide medical care to an animal.

Dr. Apryl Steele, a Denver veterinarian, told lawmakers that vets have no problems with emergency responders helping pets.

"It's not the veterinarians that the EMTs are worried about. It's the pet owners," Steele explained. "There are going to be times when the animal does not survive, and that's where the liability comes from."

Sen. David Balmer, sponsor of the measure and a Republican from Centennial, argued that emergency responders sometimes need to care for pets in order to care for their owners.

"It makes it hard for the EMT to treat the human when he keeps asking, 'Where's my dog? Where's my dog?'" Balmer said.

The bill was amended to make sure it gives emergency responders no obligation to treat pets. The bill also doesn't apply to fire districts that don't want to participate.

The bill would not apply to large animals or pets other than cats or dogs.

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Read the bill:

Senate Bill 39: http://goo.gl/AlARIE

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